Recap: When four girls have been best friends since before they were born — after all, their mothers met in a prenatal exercise class — they assume they’ll be friends forever. But with their 30th birthdays looming, Lena, Bridget, Tibby, and Carmen (from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series) find themselves drifting apart.
Lena lives in Rhode Island, where she paints, teaches art classes, and continues to pine for her Greek ex-boyfriend Kostos. Bridget has moved in with her successful longtime boyfriend, Eric, across the country in San Francisco. Carmen is now an actress in New York City, dating another man in the business who treats her poorly. And then there’s Tibby, who’s moved to Australia with her longtime boyfriend Brian, and hasn’t seen the girls in two years.
So when the three stateside girlfriends receive plane tickets from Tibby to meet once again in their magical place, Greece, they’re more than excited to reconnect. But as soon as they arrive, everything changes. Suddenly, there are only three girls left in the sisterhood. As much as they thought they’d always be together, they soon realize that when one girl leaves, the rest of the group falls apart.
Each girl is now left to deal with a devastating tragedy. They reflect on the past to figure out how to move forward. But with the one missing piece, none of it seems to make sense.
Analysis: If you start reading this book thinking it’s going to be like the first four Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, you’re wrong. The fifth and final book in the popular YA series takes place 10 years after the first one. The girls are grown up, and the problems are a lot bigger. And without a doubt, much darker. The tragedy that happens early on sets the tone for the rest of the novel, and that tone is one of loss, in every sense of the word — losing a friend, losing yourself, losing your way.
As the book flips back and forth between characters, some sections move faster than others. I cared less for Carmen’s subplot than any of the others. Her character in particular seemed the most changed from the original books. Lena, Bridget, and Tibby all had storylines that moved, with secrets revealed and new characters to introduce.
What likely kept me reading the most was my attachment to the characters from having read the earlier books. (That’s not to say you won’t understand the book if you haven’t read the rest of the series; there’s plenty of history that’s explained.) Reading this was like attending a high school reunion with only the people you actually cared about. It’s fun to see where the characters end up — whether it’s in a good place or bad. Sure, the end was a bit cheesey — okay, it was really cheesey — but author Ann Brashares’ storytelling grew as her characters did, and there’s a lot in this book about what friendship and life really means.
MVP: Tibby. There’s really no single protagonist in the series. It’s split pretty evenly across. But Tibby is clearly the clue in Sisterhood Everlasting. She may have fallen out of touch the most with the others, but despite the tragedy, she still manages to bring them all back together.